Business Visa Center FAQs

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What is business related (B-1) visitor visa travel?

Generally, the travel appropriate for a business (B-1) visitor visa includes;

  • Consultation with business associates
  • Attend a scientific, educational, professional or business convention, or a conference on specific dates
  • Settle an estate
  • Negotiate a contract
  • Participate in short-term training

This is not an all-inclusive list of allowable B-1 business visa related activities. To learn more about allowable travel using a B-1 visa, review our handout Buisness Travel to the United States. Select visitor visa to learn more about the application requirements. If a visa applicant has specific questions about qualifications for a visa, contact the U.S. embassy or consulate where he/she will apply for the visa.

The Business Visa Center program assists businesses and organizations located in the United States by providing information about the application process for business visitor (B-1) visa.

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Should I send any application materials to the Business Visa Center (BVC)?

No. Neither businesses nor applicants should send any materials to the BVC unless you are specifically asked to do so. Application processing still takes place at U.S. embassies and consulates abroad, and all applicants will need to complete the visa application, and bring supporting documentation with them to the interview.

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Does the BVC change the way visas are processed?

The BVC does not change the steps in the visa process in any way. The BVC is an information portal for U.S. based businesses and organizations. U.S. embassies overseas continue to have the responsibility under immigration law for the acceptance and processing of visa applications, and decisions on the issuance or denial of a visa to foreign citizens. As examples, a visa applicant must still apply (or if desired, reapply, if denied), at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas and follow the visa application procedures listed on the relevant website at www.usembassy.gov.

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My company is located overseas. Who can assist me?

The BVC only assists U.S. based companies and organizations. U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide have programs to assist overseas companies. The Consular Section in the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the visa applicant will apply is in the best position to provide information about visa applications, processing, and issuance, as well as information on any local business visa facilitation programs. For business-specific questions that do not pertain to visas, we encourage companies located overseas to contact the Commercial Section in the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their country. For U.S. Embassies and Consulates without a Department of Commerce representative, the commercial function is handled by the Economic Section. Select U.S. Embassy or Consulate to locate the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country and obtain contact information for the Consular Section and the Commercial Section.

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I want to work or be employed in the U.S. (E, H, L, O, P, Q, R or TN visas). Where can I find information?

If you would like to travel to the U.S. as a temporary worker in the U.S. (H, L, O, P, Q and R visas), your prospective employer must file a petition with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This petition must be approved by USCIS before you can apply for a visa. Select temporary workers to visit the USCIS website and learn more about requirements. For questions related to petition approval, you may contact USCIS at 1-800-375-5283.   

For information about NAFTA workers (TN visa) and treaty traders/investors (E visas) select temporary worker visas. For visa-related questions, contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country of application or contact the National Visa Center at (603) 334-0700.

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How early should our business travelers apply?

As a general planning guideline, visa applicants should apply for his or her visa as soon as possible, preferably no later than 60 days before the travel date. Visa applicants will need to schedule an interview appointment as a first step in the visa process. Select visa wait times to see how long it will take to schedule an interview appointment at each U.S. embassy and consulate abroad. Since wait times vary by embassy and time of year, we strongly encourage travelers to review this information, as it is updated weekly. Please note: Additional planning time beyond the guidelines above is needed for visa applicants applying at some embassies due to the time required to schedule an interview appointment. Additionally, the interview wait times do not include time for required security clearances or administrative processing, which take place after the interview and may take additional time. 

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The interview appointment date is after the conference or date needed to travel. May I request an earlier appointment?

If the interview appointment date provided is not early enough for the visa applicant’s intended travel, applicants may contact the U.S. embassy or consulate to request an expedited appointment. The applicant should check the Embassy website for the "how to" procedures on requesting an expedited appointment. (Some embassies and consulates may use slightly different wording, such as how to request urgent or emergency travel, as examples.) 

We recommend that all requests for expedited appointments note the date when the applicant actually needs to travel and provide contact information (local telephone number) for the applicant. It should be noted that the decision by the embassy or consulate to expedite an interview appointment is discretionary and depends on several factors, including the urgency of the travel and the U.S. national interests involved. Any expedite request should clearly explain why it is important (that is, explain what is at stake) to expedite the case.

If after searching the website or contacting a post directly you are unable to find information on requesting an expedited appointment at the embassy or consulate, the BVC can work with the embassy or consulate to get the information to you.

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How do I apply for a business, B-1 visitor visa?

For specific application requirements select visitor visa to learn more.

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Do I need a visa if I have an APEC Business Travelers Card (ABTC)?

Yes, you will still need a visa to travel to the U.S. unless you qualify for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Travelers are advised that possession of the ABTC will not change visa requirements, your visa status, or the visa process for travel to the U.S. Review the Frequently Asked Questions for participants in APEC meetings in the United States.

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How can I use my ABTC when I apply for my visa?

You will still need to be interviewed, since U.S. law requires visa interviews in most cases and having the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travelers Card (ABTC) does not exempt travelers from this requirement. Holders of the ABTC will be eligible to participate in the U.S. Embassy or Consulate business facilitation programs, which offer expedited visa interview appointments. For instructions on how to request expedited interview appointments visit the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website where you will apply. Review the Frequently Asked Questions for participants in APEC meetings in the United States.

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Some of our business travelers were denied visas. What can we do?

The authority for issuance and refusal of visas resides with consular officers at U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. The BVC has no authority to override these decisions. In some special circumstances, when the BVC is contacted, there may be additional information that we provide to the embassy or consulate for consideration when the applicant reapplies.  The applicant is welcome to reapply if he or she can present additional evidence to overcome the previous grounds of refusal.

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Can the BVC help expedite administrative processing?

The BVC cannot expedite or waive administrative processing. However, for business-related travelers with looming travel dates may contact BVC to work with the relevant offices.  Additionally, for inquiries about the status of a pending case, applicants or business representatives in the U.S. may contact the National Visa Center public line (603-334-0888) to speak with a Visa Specialist.

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Our business travelers qualify under Visa Waiver Program (VWP), can the BVC assist?

Yes, VWP travel is for visitor (B) visa purposes. VWP travelers can learn more about the VWP requirements on our Visa Waiver Program webpage.